Toyota/Save Mart 350

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Toyota/Save Mart 350
Toyota-SaveMart 350 race logo.png
Venue Sonoma Raceway
Sponsor Toyota
Save Mart
First race 1989
Distance 218.9 miles (352.3 km)
Laps 110
Previous names Banquet Frozen Foods 300 (1989–1991)
Save Mart 300K (1992)
Save Mart Supermarkets 300K (1993)
Save Mart Supermarkets 300 (1994–1997)
Save Mart/Kragen 350 (1998–2000)
Dodge/Save Mart 350 (2001–2006)

The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is a 218.9 miles (352.3 km) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event held annually at Sonoma Raceway at Sears Point in Sonoma, California. This race is one of only two Sprint Cup races annually run on a road circuit (the other being Watkins Glen).

The race joined the NASCAR circuit in 1989. It was added as a replacement for the Budweiser 400 at Riverside, which closed in 1988. The race has undergone several name and length changes since its inception. The NASCAR "West Series" held a combination race from 1989 to 1997 and has held a standalone race since 2006. Due to the track's unique layout, the race generates annual discussion, with media, fans, and participants both in favor and against racing this event. Due to its unique layout, "road course ringers" are common, a NASCAR term standing for drivers that appear on the NASCAR circuit only for the road course races.

Race history[edit]

Start of the 2005 race

From 1989-1997, NASCAR utilized the full 2.52 miles (4.06 km) road course, best known for sports car racing. Subtle changes to some of the turns accommodated the stock cars, and increased passing widths. Ricky Rudd won the inaugural NSCS race at Sonoma.

Tony Stewart 2005 at Infineon

In the 1991 race Sonoma became famous. With 7 laps left in the race Mark Martin tried to pass Tommy Kendall, subbing for an injured Kyle Petty. The two made contact resulting in Martin crashing into the wall-of-tires on a pull-over site and Tommy Kendall cutting his tire. The lead went to Davey Allison. Then with 2 laps left the pole-sitter Ricky Rudd passed Allison for the lead but Allison spun out from contact in the final turn. Ricky Rudd led to the white flag and was contending to win the race, his second Sonoma victory, and to advance his championship points to the lead. However as he came around to take the win Rudd was black-flagged just 3 feet from the finish line. Davey Allison was declared the winner of the race with Rudd's controversial penalty. Rudd finished in second spot.

The last Sonoma NASCAR race held at the previous road course passage was in 1997 on October 5 at a Truck series event. There Joe Ruttman won the race but controversy erupted when Rich Bickle blamed a loss of a top-ten finish on rookie Boris Said. Rich Bickle cut down Boris' tire and in reply Boris Said waited for Bickle to come back around and crashed him. NASCAR after a brief red flag for a massive crash in a wall of tires, disqualified Said and fined him $10,000 for his actions.

In 1998, the circuit for the NASCAR event was shorted from the full road course to a 1.95 miles (3.14 km) modified road course with the addition of the Chute from turn 4 to turn 7, bypassing turns 5 and 6.

In 2001 the Chute was modified to such that the NASCAR circuit measured 1.99 miles (3.20 km) long.

Gilligan's Island[edit]

From 1989 to 2001, the pit road could only accommodate 34 pit stalls. In the early years, some teams were required to share pit stalls while other teams were forced to pit inside the garage area. When cars dropped out of the race, their pit stalls were reassigned to cars who were sharing.

After a few years, a makeshift auxiliary pit road was constructed inside the hairpin (turn 11) nicknamed Gilligan's Island. Cars that had the nine slowest qualifying speeds were relegated to these pit stalls. Pitting in this area was considered an inconvenience and a competitive disadvantage, more so than even the disadvantages one would experience pitting on the backstretch at a short track at the time.

Since the length of the auxiliary pit road was significantly shorter than the main pit road, the cars that pitted there were held from 15–20 seconds to make up for the time that would have been spent if the cars had traveled the entire main pit road.[1]

Pitting on Gilligan's Island had several other inconveniences. The location (the staging area for drag races) was landlocked by the race course, and crew members were unable to leave once the race began. Teams sent only the primary pit crew to Gilligan's Island, and once they were there, they could not access the garage area or their transporters to collect spare parts/tools. The only repairs that could be made were routine tire changes and refueling, as well as only minor repairs. Other auxiliary pit crew members, who were not part of the main crew, were staged in the garage area, and would have to service the car if it required major repairs. If a team pitting on Gilligan's Island dropped out of the race, the crew was unable to pack up their supplies and prepare to leave (a common practice at other tracks) until the race was over.

Changes to the track in 2002 that included separation of the drag strip from the frontstretch, removal of the main drag strip grandstand, and the new control tower for road racing led to the pit road being expanded by extending pit road into the main straight and moving the pit exit up the hill past Turn 1, thereby expanding it to 43 cars, and Gilligan's Island was abandoned.

Television broadcasters[edit]

Televised rights were first handled by ESPN from the race outset in 1989 through 2000. The 1998 race started on ESPN2 because a golf tournament, which aired before the race, was in a playoff. Fox held broadcast rights between 2001–2006. TNT broadcast the race from 2007-2014. In 2015, the race will return to Fox Sports. With the final schedule being revealed on August 26, it was announced that the race will be shown on Fox Sports 1. Maxim magazine ranked this race as one of their top ten annual NASCAR Sprint Cup races.[2]

Year Network Lap-by-lap Color commentator(s)
2014 TNT Adam Alexander Wally Dallenbach
Kyle Petty
2013[3]
2012
2011
2010
2009 Bill Weber
2008
2007 Wally Dallenbach
2006 Fox Mike Joy Darrell Waltrip
Larry McReynolds
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000 ESPN Bob Jenkins Benny Parsons
Ned Jarrett
1999
1998 ESPN2
ESPN
1997 ESPN
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
1990
1989

Past winners[edit]

Year Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Report
Laps Miles (km)
1989 June 11 Ricky Rudd King Racing Buick 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:27:03 76.088 Report
1990 June 10 Rusty Wallace Blue Max Racing Pontiac 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:41:35 69.245 Report
1991 June 9 Davey Allison Robert Yates Racing Ford 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:33:20 72.97 Report
1992 June 7 Ernie Irvan Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:17:26 81.413 Report
1993 May 16 Geoffrey Bodine Bud Moore Engineering Ford 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:25:17 77.013 Report
1994 May 15 Ernie Irvan Robert Yates Racing Ford 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:24:27 77.458 Report
1995 May 7 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:38:18 70.681 Report
1996 May 5 Rusty Wallace Penske Racing Ford 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:24:03 77.673 Report
1997 May 5 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford 74 186.48 (300.11) 2:27:38 75.788 Report
1998 June 28 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 112 218.288 (351.3) 3:00:56 72.387 Report
1999 June 27 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 112 218.288 (351.3) 3:06:06 70.378 Report
2000 June 25 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 112 222.88 (358.69) 2:46:14 78.789 Report
2001 June 24 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac 112 224 (360.493) 2:57:06 75.889 Report
2002 June 23 Ricky Rudd Robert Yates Racing Ford 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:42:08 81.007 Report
2003 June 22 Robby Gordon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:57:55 73.821 Report
2004 June 27 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:49:34 77.456 Report
2005 June 26 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet 110 218.9 (352.285) 3:00:18 72.845 Report
2006 June 25 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:57:36 73.953 Report
2007 June 24 Juan Pablo Montoya Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:56:11 74.547 Report
2008 June 22 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 112* 222.88 (358.69) 2:54:56 76.445 Report
2009 June 21 Kasey Kahne Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge 113* 224.87 (361.893) 3:10:00 71.012 Report
2010 June 20 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:56:38 74.357 Report
2011 June 26 Kurt Busch Penske Racing Dodge 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:54:10 75.411 Report
2012 June 24 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 112* 222.88 (358.69) 2:39:55 83.624 Report
2013 June 23 Martin Truex, Jr. Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:51:20 76.658 Report
2014 June 22 Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Ford 110 218.9 (352.285) 2:51:30 76.583 Report

Race length notes

  • 1989–1997: 74 laps (186.48 miles) on a 2.52 mile course.
  • 1998–1999: 112 laps (218.288 miles) on a 1.949 mile course.
  • 2000: 112 laps (222.88 miles) on a 1.99 mile course.
  • 2001: 112 laps (224 miles) on a 2 mile course.
  • 2002–present: 110 laps (218.9 miles) on a 1.99 mile course.

NASCAR West Series[edit]

2006 June 24 Brian Vickers
2007 June 23 David Gilliland
2008 June 21 Jason Bowles
2009 June 20 Jason Bowles

USAC stock car NorCal 200[edit]


Multiple winners (drivers)[edit]

# Wins Driver Years Won
5 Jeff Gordon 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006
2 Ernie Irvan 1992, 1994
Rusty Wallace 1990, 1996
Ricky Rudd 1989, 2002
Tony Stewart 2001, 2005

Multiple winners (teams)[edit]

# Wins Team Years Won
6 Hendrick Motorsports 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2010
3 Robert Yates Racing 1991, 1994, 2002
Joe Gibbs Racing 2001, 2005, 2008
2 Richard Childress Racing 1995, 2003
Penske Racing 1996, 2011
Michael Waltrip Racing 2012, 2013
Roush Fenway Racing 1997, 2014

Manufacturer wins[edit]

# Wins Manufacturer Years Won
10 Chevrolet 1992, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010
7 Ford 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2014
3 Dodge 2007, 2009, 2011
Toyota 2008, 2012, 2013
2 Pontiac 1990, 2001

Race summaries[edit]

  • 1989: Ricky Rudd won the inaugural race under King Racing which proved to be his only victory of 1989.
  • 1990: Rusty Wallace in his new #27 Miller Genuine Draft sponsored car won the race at Sonoma after Mark Martin got loose with 3 laps left.
  • 1991: After Mark Martin and Tommy Kendell clashed, Davey Allison took the lead in a huge margin against Ricky Rudd. Ricky Rudd nonetheless caught up and in the final turn with 2 laps left, he spun Allison around. Allison contended second after turning a 180 to hold on to second spot. Ricky Rudd led the final lap and in the final turn he waved to his pit crew and gave the victory fist but was instead shown a black-flag at the last second. His furious pit crew retorted to NASCAR that it was plain racing but nonetheless Rudd was disqualified from his victory and put in second place behind the eventual winner Davey Allison.
  • 1992: Ernie Irvan who started in the back because of a practice accident, wowed the fans by pulling up to the lead in the final laps to hold off Terry Labonte for the victory.
  • 1993: Ernie Irvan dominated but in the final 3 laps he was passed by NASCAR veteran and popular driver, Geoffrey Bodine who held him off to win the race.
  • 1994: Ernie Irvan dominated again and went on to win his second victory at Sonoma.
  • 1995: Dale Earnhardt dominated the race and held off close friend and rival Mark Martin to take the victory. This victory at Sonoma put Earnhardt in the lead of the championship standings which gave him popularity at Sonoma.
  • 1996: Again Mark Martin dominated but suffered heartbreak to a fierce rival Rusty Wallace when Wallace passed Martin on a final restart to win the race.
  • 1997: Mark Martin dominated and won the race after Jeff Gordon got loose in the final 5 laps.
  • 1998: Jeff Gordon started on the front row, dominated nearly the entire race and won his first Sonoma victory.
  • 1999: Jeff Gordon again started on front row and won after domination.
  • 2000: Jeff Gordon started in 5th place which caused the fans to think his hopes of victory would not work. However Gordon rushed up to the top spot on a first restart and dominated to win the race for a third consecutive time.
  • 2001: Jeff Gordon dominated but on a final pit stop a rival Robby Gordon (The two Gordons are not related) took the lead. Robby Gordon had been fired from his team in spring 2001 and was racing only on rare occasions. R. Gordon hoped to win in order to find support but unfortunately for R.Gordon with two laps to go Tony Stewart passed him to win the race.
  • 2002: Jeff Gordon dominated but under a final caution he pitted and Jerry Nadeau took the lead by not pitting with 19 laps to go. Jerry Nadeau led 22 laps driving for Petty Enterprises. With 2 laps to go his car engine blew and he stalled in a pullover-site to avoid causing a caution. Ricky Rudd crossed the finish line first and this time he got to keep his victory. Jerry Nadeau finished 34th after another near-miss in less than 9 months (Nadeau ran out of gas on the final lap of the 2001 NAPA 500 at Atlanta).
  • 2003: Robby Gordon ended Jeff Gordon's domination streak by dominating the race in his #31 team he was given in 2001. On lap 43, Robby Gordon and his RCR teammate Kevin Harvick got loose racing side-by-side which nearly gave the win away to Ron Fellows. Fellows controlled the race from then until an untimely caution at lap 72 and losing any shot at winning with a spin with less than 20 laps left. Coming to the caution on lap 72, Robby Gordon passed Kevin Harvick in turn 11, violating a non-written gentlemen agreement to not pass under yellow. Robby Gordon went on to win.
  • 2004: Jeff Gordon dominated again and won the race with help from his teammate/student driver Jimmie Johnson who had pushed him on a late restart. The win was overshadowed by an altercation between Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers. Tony Stewart had retaliated against Brian Vickers on lap 85 for prior contact and on pit road Tony Stewart smacked Vickers. For his part Tony Stewart was fined $50000 and put on probation for the rest of the year.
  • 2005: Tony Stewart showed his skills at Sonoma and held off Sonoma favorite, Ricky Rudd to take his second Sonoma victory. Stewart later became the next person after Robby Gordon to win both road course races in one NSCS season.
  • 2006: Jeff Gordon again amazed the audience by dominating and winning his 5th Sonoma race.
  • 2007: Jamie McMurray won the pole position and Robby Gordon led the most laps. However the final laps saw Jamie McMurray back on the lead. With 8 laps to go Jamie McMurray was passed by bitter rival; the cup rookie Juan Pablo Montoya. The final 10 laps both McMurray and Montoya were in fuel mileage drama and RCR driver Kevin Harvick (The Daytona 500 winner of 2007) who had enough fuel to make it; was gaining on them. McMurray later ran out of gas in turn one with 3 laps to go and slowed down giving up second place and ending up 37th because he ran out of gas just past pit road. Montoya never gave up his lead and amazed the racing world by stretching off his fuel crisis to win the race. RCR finished an amazing 3 in a row with Harvick in second place, Jeff Burton in third, and Clint Bowyer in fourth place.
  • 2008: Kyle Busch started a road course sweep in 2008 by winning at Sonoma for his first road course victory. He later became the next person after Tony Stewart to sweep both road course races with victory. Marcos Ambrose had his first NSCS start in this race and had contention to win but crashed with Elliott Sadler with 25 laps left.
  • 2009: Kasey Kahne dominated the race and held off Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose for his first road course victory in NASCAR.
  • 2010: Due to fuel concerns, leader Marcos Ambrose stopped in turn 1 during a late caution. He drove back to the lead but was discovered to have violated the rule of maintaining speed under caution causing him to be reset by NASCAR in 7th costing him a shot at his first Sprint Cup victory; he finished 6th. Jimmie Johnson nabbed the lead thanks to the debacle and scored his first career road course win. As a result of his loss Ambrose announced his decision to leave JTG-Daughtery Racing after 2010 to race under the renamed Petty Enterprises; Richard Petty Motorsports.
  • 2011: In one of the most action-filled race of the event, after a repeat of history from 2004; a vicious fight between Tony Stewart & Brian Vickers, Kurt Busch dominated and won his first road course victory leading 76 laps in total.
  • 2012: Clint Bowyer dominated the race and won his first road course victory and one of Michael Waltrip Racing's first biggest victories in their career. It was also the first victory on a road course for MWR. This victory and a few others in 2012 showed that Bowyer would be a contender for victory even though he left legendary RCR to an underrated MWR team. Phoenix Racing had its' greatest NSCS finish since its first win in 2009 at Talladega, with Kurt Busch the defending race winner who ended up in third place for his first top five of 2012's NASCAR season. Kurt almost got second but Tony slipped by Kurt on the final lap for second place his first top five since his 2011 fall Dover win.
  • 2013: Marcos Ambrose led the first quarter against pole sitter Jamie McMurray. After pit stops and penalties for other drivers, Martin Truex Jr. went up front. Eventually the lead was traded with Juan Pablo Montoya, among other drivers. With 22 laps left, Martin Truex, Jr. went back up front and held off Jeff Gordon to win his second NSCS win and his first since Dover in 2007. While Truex celebrated an emotional victory MWR got two in a row owner wins at Sonoma, and Kurt Busch was praised by the drivers for recovering from two speeding penalties to finish in the top five. Drivers such as Ron Fellows, Boris Said and Jacques Villeneuve returned to NASCAR to race at Sonoma.
  • 2014: AJ Allmendinger led the most laps of 35 and appeared to probably have a sure victory in his hand. He was driving the #47 car which nearly won the 2010 race. However he got tapped from behind by Dale Earnhardt Jr. which put him out of chances of a win. Carl Edwards ended up going on to win the race against Jeff Gordon who finished second for the second consecutive time. Boris Said was the only road ringer who raced in this event.

References[edit]

External links[edit]


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